It’s everyone’s guess when it comes to predicting the winter

Margaret Moran
Snow can be abundant in the Tahoe area, as seen here on the Mt. Rose Highway during a previous winter.
File photo |

LAKE TAHOE — After two consecutive years of mild snowfall, hopes are high for a whiter Lake Tahoe winter season this year.

“I hope we see some good snowfall,” said Amanda Schjelderup, interior designer for High Camp Homes in Truckee. “As we know, the snow always influences the tourists and local traffic, and that’s so important to this town in terms of business.”

According to Squaw Valley’s snowfall tracker, it snowed 183 inches at 6,200 feet and 326 inches at 8,200 feet in 2012-13. For 2011-12, it snowed 182.5 inches and 355 inches, respectively. The average snowfall for Lake Tahoe is 430 inches.

The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting above-normal snowfall and below-normal temperatures for most of the 2013-14 winter across much of the United States.

“This winter is shaping up to be a rough one,” said Janice Stillman, editor of “The Old Farmer’s Almanac,” in a statement. “Sweaters and snow shovels should be unpacked early and kept close by throughout the season.”

The Almanac’s prediction is based on a decline in solar activity combined with ocean-atmosphere patterns. For California and Nevada, the Almanac predicts a cool winter with near-normal precipitation.

Closer to home, professional meteorologist and long-range forecaster Rob Guarino predicts above-average snowfall and below-normal temperatures at Squaw Valley for the 2013-14 winter. He forecasts about 500 inches of snowfall for the season, with February being the snowiest month and January the coldest.

“Colder than normal with more snow than normal sounds perfect to us,” states a Sept. 4 post. “Especially after the past two very dry seasons at Squaw. This year, we could all use a little extra snow and cold at Squaw.”

Chris Smallcomb, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Reno, is predicting otherwise.

“Anything can happen,” he said, referring to the amount of precipitation Truckee/Tahoe may receive this winter. “… Even if we get an above-normal precipitation year, it doesn’t mean you get a lot of snow.”

As for temperatures, they’re most likely to be slightly above normal, Smallcomb said.

National Weather Service predictions are based in part on the state of El Niño and La Niña weather phenomena in the tropical Pacific Ocean, he said.

La Niña is associated with cooler-than-normal ocean temperatures, while El Niño is associated with warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures. Both can bring weather extremes to various parts of the nation.

Smallcomb said ocean temperatures are roughly normal this year, showing no La Niña or El Niño patterns.

Making a forecast months in advance is difficult, he said, especially for an area such as Lake Tahoe, with its varying elevations and lakes making it “all the more complicated.”

Lindy Kramer, owner of Tree House Children’s Clothing and Gifts in Truckee, said she is hoping for a normal winter, featuring a good ski season.

“It will be whatever it will be; you have no control over that,” she said. “It just doesn’t hurt to send out positive vibes.”

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